#Review XX by Angela Chadwick @_AngelaChadwick @DialogueBooks

Image result for xx angela chadwick

XX By Angela Chadwick   Dialogue Books October 4th 2018

When Rosie and Jules discover a ground-breaking clinical trial that enables two women to have a female baby, they jump at the chance to make history.

Fear-mongering politicians and right-wing movements are quick to latch on to the controversies surrounding Ovum-to-Ovum (o-o) technology and stoke the fears of the public. What will happen to the numbers of little boys born? Is there a sinister conspiracy to eradicate men at play?

In this toxic political climate, Jules and Rosie try to hide their baby from scrutiny. But when the news of Rosie’s pregnancy is leaked to the media, their relationship is put under a microscope and they’re forced to question the loyalty of those closest to them, and battle against a tirade of hate that threatens to split them apart…

My Review

Imagine a world when you don’t need a man to have a baby, well that is exactly what happens in XX. All you need are two willing women, a test tube and a laboratory. For female couples it is the answer to their prayers, even if the procedure will only ever produce girls.

Journalist, Jules and her partner, Rosie are chosen to be part of the trial but what they do not reckon with is the backlash they face from family, friends, the press and politicians.

XX raised some very interesting questions regarding ethics, equality and press intrusion, and would certainly provoke some interesting debate, particularly if read as part of a book club.

Is it right to play with nature, what are the risks involved and are they worth taking, is it sexist against men, would it belittle them in today’s society, and so on. It certainly made me think, and I can’t say I would be entirely comfortable with the process, even though I firmly believe in same sex parents.

What Chadwick did very well was to provide balanced viewpoints and a vivid portrayal of the effects press intrusion can have, not just on those involved but also those around them.

Whilst Chadwick explained the scientific processes she didn’t bog the novel down with indepth descriptions, merely provided the reader with the facts they needed to understand how female to female conception worked.

XX was also a novel about relationships, the differences we have and what happens if we make decisions just because it would make the other person happy. Jules and Rose seemed to be polar opposites which emphasised their problems, adding some great drama and tension to the novel. It made them question their motives, their love for one another and if, at the end of all this they could provide their baby girl with a family and stability all children need.

Outside characters and influences added even more drama and tension and at times it was more of a thriller than a novel about the rights and wrongs of assisted conception.

I found it hard to categorise XX, to place it in a genre and perhaps it doesn’t need to fit neatly into one, maybe it is just the start of a new tranch of novels, that explore and push the boundaries of science but also provide a glimpse into a future of what could be.

Angela Chadwick has written an interesting, extremely thought provoking debut and I will be very curious to read what she writes next.

About the author

Angela Chadwick is a Hampshire-based English graduate and former journalist who has spent the last decade working in higher education communications.

Her debut novel XX was published by Dialogue Books on October 4th 2018.

Read more about Angela Chadwick at http://www.angelachadwick.co.uk

You can follow the author on Twitter @_AngelaChadwick


#Blogtour The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond @GaryRaymond_ @parthianbooks #DampPebblesTours #TheGoldenOrphans

Golden Orphans Cover Image

The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond  Parthian Books

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.

My Review

The Golden Orphans is slim, but that is not to say it does not pack an awful lot into its 155 pages.

It’s beginning was certainly not a happy one as our main protagonist attended the funeral of his past art lecturer and friend Francis Bentham. What he didn’t bargain for was involvement with Benthams’ Russian employer Illie Prostakov and the ensuing events.

Now The Golden Orphans was not what I would call a traditional thriller, the beginning very much gave the novel a contemporary feel as our unnamed protagonist wrestled with his doomed relationship and his involvement with Prostakov.

The detailed narrative took us deep into the modern Cypriot culture, the strip of Aya Napa, the rowdy tourists and numerous bars, before delving into the history of a divided country. It was a history that was immediately interesting and engaging, a history off  the well know beaten track and I found it utterly fascinating. Our unnamed protagonist was drawn into that history and this where the novel took a decidedly dark turn, the contemporary making way for the thriller side of the novel.

It was a switch that was skilfully executed by Raymond, so seamless that I as a reader barely noticed.

Raymond was able to reveal the true nature of his characters, as you began to question just who was telling the truth and who was not.

The latter parts of the novel were wonderfully tense and dramatic, the settings absolutely perfect, the truth unsettling and shocking.

The whole novel was for me, wonderfully atmospheric, the Cypriot settings wonderfully described by Raymond.

There was a poignant and emotional touch that, despite the intrigue and drama stood out above everything else and you could not help but feel great sorrow for many of the characters.

My only criticism is that the novel did not have more pages.

I would like to thank Parthian Books for a copy of The Golden Orphans to read and review and to Damp Pebbles for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

gary raymond author photo

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’, The Review Show, and is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator.

The Golden Orphans banner

#Blogtour The Reckoning by Clar Ni Chonghaile @clarnic @Legend_Press #poignant #emotional

The Reckoning Cover smaller

The Reckoning by Clar Ni Chonghaile   Legend Press October 15th 2018

 I have a story to tell you, Diane. It is my story and your story and the story of a century that remade the world. When we reach the end, you will be the ultimate arbiter of whether it was worth your time. You will also sit in judgment on me.”

In a cottage in Normandy, Lina Rose is writing to the daughter she abandoned as a baby. Now a successful if enigmatic author, she is determined to trace her family’s history through the two world wars that shaped her life.

But Lina can no longer bear to carry her secrets alone, and once the truth is out, can she ever be forgiven?

My Review

World War 1 and 2 were some of the hardest times this country and indeed other European countries have endured, yet it was not just the countries that suffered, it was also each individual person wether they fought on the frontline or stayed at home.

Lina Rose was a woman entering her twilight years, we first met her in France as she wrote to the daughter she gave up for adoption in the years following the ending of World War 2. What follows is a poignant, emotional series of thoughts, reasons and justifications for her actions over the intervening years.

I challenge anyone not to be moved by what they read. Lina’s story is one of personal tragedy and turmoil, yet I never felt sorry for her. Chonghaile’s skill was in making Lina pragmatic, and stoical to the point that I had to admire her.  Yes, some of the decisions she made were wrong, but who is to say that we would not make the same ones, if we found ourselves in similar circumstances. Lina’s approach seemed to be one of survival, a life that she could live to the full, a life for her child that would be better than the one she could give her. And what a life Lina led, one of travel and danger, as though she was punishing herself for the decisions she had made, but one where she found herself and at times was happy.

Chonghaile’s narrative brilliantly captured the many countries Lina visited, none were more vivid than those in Africa, where you could almost feel the simmering heat and get lost in the descriptions of the beautiful landscape.

What struck me more than anything was the way in which Chonghaile was able to dig deep and really understand the cruel ravishes of war that both Lina’s, father and her love Robert suffered. We can never imagine the untold horrors that they both faced, or the terror they felt that each day but Chonghaile’s skill was that she used her narrative to paint a picture, a picture of the haunted and gaunt look on their faces and the terror in their eyes. I just wished that they had the knowledge that we have today so that they need not have suffered, that their relatives would not have suffered and they could have received help to live their lives to their full potential.

For all its sadness, The Reckoning was also a story of hope, of forgiveness, and love, of a person’s sheer determination to survive despite the odds.

The Reckoning is a haunting story, a lament to the fallen and those who survived, it was a story that held me in its awe and captivated me in the beauty of the writing.

It is a story that, will stay with me for a long time, one I will not forget.

I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of The reckoning to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

About the author


Clar Ni Chonghaile is the author of FRACTURED (2016) and RAIN FALLS ON EVERYONE (July 2017)

Clár Ní Chonghaile was born in London but grew up in An Spidéal, County Galway. She left Ireland aged 19 to join Reuters in London as a graduate trainee journalist. Clár has been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, living and working in Spain, France, the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Kenya.

She now lives in St Albans, England, with her husband and two daughters. Her debut novel, Fractured, was published by Legend Press in 2016.

The Reckoning Blog Tour Banner

#Blogtour Palm Beach Finland @antti_tuomainen @OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTours #addictive #fun


Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen  Orenda Books  August 31st 2018

Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary.
With a nod to Fargo, and the darkest noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a wicked black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives … from the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’

My Review

Oh my goodness, what struck me first of all about Palm Beach Finland, was the so called resort of the books title. Run by Jorma Leivo, this was the hottest resort on earth, a resort to rival any other, where celebrities would flock and make it the place to be, except this resort was on a windswept, cold Finnish coastline, it was cold and desolate! Tuomainen’s, description was utterly brilliant and I loved the plastic palm trees swaying in the wind, the cabins named after characters from Miami Vice and the sheer tackiness of the whole place, sending my imagination into overdrive.

If I thought that was good, the myriad of characters that littered the novel were even better. First up was resort owner Jorma Lveivo, a man powered by his dreams to make Palm Beach the best resort in the world. I couldn’t decide if he was a genius or merely delusional, but his lumbering sweating figure and scheming plans certainly made me laugh.

His two henchmen, Chico and Robin were a bit like Laurel and Hardy, cumbersome, and clueless, driven by a desire to earn money and pursue their own delusional dreams. Their blundered attempts to drive Olivia Koski out of her home set off a chain of events that would have consequences that they would never have dreamt of, with often hilarious results.

Olivia Koski, seemed like the only sensible and normal character, returning to her family home after the death of her father, intent on renovating and making a new life for herself. The discovery of a dead body in her house was definitely not what she was expecting and I loved the journey she went on, her determination and astuteness at attempting to make something good out of bad circumstances, she was a woman on a mission!

I loved Jan Nyman, undercover policeman, recovering divorcee, thrust into the middle of Palm Beach to root out the murderer.

And finally we had the brother of the dead body, Holma, not a nice man but hell bent on avenging his brothers death. He was the real villain of the story, a man who could pull out varying identities to suit the differing situations he found himself in. I loved his resourcefulness, and actually thought his scheme to eek out the murderer quite cunning and clever. he was almost like a pantomime villain and everytime he appeared I wanted to boo and hiss and sincerely hoped that he would meet a bad end!

The combination of the characters, each pitted against the other to solve a murder, was brilliantly done giving the novel a real comedic feel. You never quite knew what they were going to get upto next and I found it hard to tear myself away.

The pace didn’t let up and the latter parts were tension filled, funny and damned good, an author not afraid to let his imagination run wild.

I think this is why I liked this novel so much, yes it is very much along the long lines of your typical thriller, but the ideas and settings were utterly unique and it didn’t take itself too seriously.

If you want a thriller with a light humourous touch that is well written, addictive and just very good then I suggest you rush off to your local library and borrow a copy, you will not regret it.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Palm Beach Finland to read and review and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Antti Tuomainen

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary
debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was
published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of
Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style,
Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller,
shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.

First Palm Beach BT Poster

#Review In A House of Lies by Ian Rankin @Beathhigh @orionbooks

Image result for in a house of lies

In A House Of Lies by Ian Rankin   Orion October 4th 2018

In a house of lies, who can ever know the truth?


Everyone has something to hide
A missing private investigator is found, locked in a car hidden deep in the woods. Worse still – both for his family and the police – is that his body was in an area that had already been searched.

Everyone has secrets
Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke is part of a new inquiry, combing through the mistakes of the original case. There were always suspicions over how the investigation was handled and now – after a decade without answers – it’s time for the truth.

Nobody is innocent
Every officer involved must be questioned, and it seems everyone on the case has something to hide, and everything to lose. But there is one man who knows where the trail may lead – and that it could be the end of him: John Rebus.

My Review

Why oh why have I waited so long to read Ian Rankin and his Rebus series?

I loved this novel and I loved meeting Rebus, even if he was now retired, letting DI Siobhan Clarke take the lead. That is not to say the Rebus didn’t have a role to play, in fact, he was always loitering in the background itching to get back in on the action.

DI Clarke was not perfect, the actions of her past lingered into her present case, the shadow of internal affairs knocked at her door, even threatening Rebus. What I liked about Clarke was her tenaciousness, her determination and her ability to get tough when she needed to.

There were two strands to the novel, two crimes, and at first no obvious links until certain characters and their action began to blur the lines. Rankin handled the strands with great skill, the complexities never confusing but deliciously intriguing.

Even though this was the first time I had met Rebus, I instantly loved him, he played the role of interfering retired copper to perfection, his wisdom and tactics procuring results where modern policing seemed to fail. His dog Brillo perfectly suited his personality and made for an apt and likeable, but, definitely not cute sidekick.

What Rankin appears to do very well is to make an obvious crime novel read almost like a contemporary novel. There are no flashing police sirens, no fast moving pace, instead Rankin digs deep to the very heart of his characters and indeed the storyline, his narrative is just superb. It is a novel to read at leisure and to enjoy the quality of a master author at work.

About the author

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel was published in 1987, and the Rebus books are now translated into thirty-six languages and are bestsellers worldwide.Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four CWA Daggers including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, Ian won America’s celebrated Edgar Award. He has also been shortlisted for the Anthony Award in the USA, won Denmark’s Palle Rosenkrantz Prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and the Deutscher Krimipreis. Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Hull and the Open University.A contributor to BBC2’s Newsnight Review, he also presented his own TV series, Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts. Rankin is a No.1 bestseller in the UK and has received the OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons.


Twitter @Beathhigh

#Blogtour Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTours

TRAP AW.indd

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir   Orenda Books October 18th 2018

Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when herson Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one … and Iceland.
Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all … Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.
With her former nemesis, customs officer Bragi on her side, Sonja puts her own plan into motion, to bring down the drug barons and her scheming ex-husband, and get Tomas back safely. But things aren’t as straightforward as they seem, and Sonja finds herself caught in the centre of a trap that will put all of their lives at risk…
Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

My Review

For a small island Iceland has a remarkable knack for turning out some very talented crime writers and Lilja Sigurdardottir is definitely one of them.

I have never read any of her previous novels and I was delighted to be invited to participate in the blogtour.

So what I did I think of Trap?. Trap was a fast-paced, hold your breath kind of novel, full of drug trafficking, money laundering and a fabulous cast of characters.

Sonja was one such character, a single Mum on the run in the heat of Florida before her and her son, Tomaz are, against their will, whisked back to Iceland by her ex husband Adam, and immersed back into a world of drug smuggling and a life without her son.

Determined to get her son back, Sonja sets out to outwit her ex husband, and this is what I liked, Sigurdardottir didn’t let Sonja sit around and languish in self pity but brought out her strong and fierce maternal instincts. She was feisty, intelligent, with endless measures of grit and determination, just the kind of character I like to see in a novel. Sigurdardottir didn’t stop there, when she intorduced Sonja’s lover Agla, another woman in a male dominated environment, except hers was the world of finance and banking. Agla needed to clear her debts, but her skill and ingenuity far outstripped those of her male counterparts, including, Sonja’s ex husband, Adam.  For once it was the men, who were the weak characters, the ones dependent on women to get them out of trouble and I loved it.

As much as I liked Sonja and Agla, the character that stood out for me was Lila, the Mexican wife of one of Adam’s drug contacts. My imagination ran wild, as I imagined a Cruella DeVille,  type woman, all sharp edges and very dangerous, used to getting exactly what she wanted who happily used Sonja for her own means. She was just brilliant.

Now, I can understand how drug trafficking works but ask me anything about finance and the world of money laundering and I am completely lost, except in this case. Sigurdardottir made all the complicated financial transactions seem easy and logical, and the narrative was never weighed down in heavy unreadable financial jargon and procedures. She brilliantly highlighted the greed and almost obsessive need of people to make money and save their own skins.

It was this obsession that made the novel so interesting and immensely addictive, from the first page I was hooked, drawn into a fast paced twisty plot, never knowing where it would end. A strong female cast of characters made this novel stand out from the crowd, the usual stereotypes thrown away. It is a novel that I suggest you borrow, buy or download now to experience the talent of another of the  growing breed of Icelandic authors.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Trap to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

About the author

Lilja Sigurðard.

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Trap First BT Poster

#Blogtour The River Runs Red by Ally Rose (Hanna Drais #3) @AllyRoseAuthor @Fahrenheitpress #DampPebblesBlogTours #TheRiverRunsRed

The River Runs Red cover

The River Runs Red by Ally Rose   Fahrenheit Press 24th July 2018

Berlin is in the midst of its worst winter in decades.

Against the backdrop of freezing temperatures, blizzards and snowstorms, the city refuses to grind to a halt. Lurking within the shadows is a Stasi victim, out for revenge against the former East German informants known as ‘The Ears’. Their dark secrets are about to be exposed.

A mix of ice and water and a single gunshot, provides the ultimate payback.

With the Millennium approaching, Hanne Drais, the criminal psychologist working within the Berlin Mitte Police team led by the irascible Oskar Kruger and his laid-back sidekick, Stefan Glockner, are seeking the perpetrator of these violent crimes.

Who is the man they’ve nicknamed Snowflake?

Who is turning the river red?

My Review

The use of performance enhancing drugs in sport is a topic that remains in the spotlight, yet back in the 1980’s it use was rife but kept underwraps and was largely undetected. It was a time when the Berlin Wall remained firmly intact, anyone attempting to escape East Germany most likely shot, its citizens kept under tight control. For some there were privileges, particularly if you excelled in your chosen sport. For those chosen few you had the luxury of decent food, accommodation and the special blue vitamin that ensured your success at the Olympics.

Rudy was one of the chosen few, a top class rower expected to win gold at the Seoul Olympics, yet when his Father defects and his brother and family are caught in their attempt his world is turned upside down.

Rose does not spare any details, perfectly describing the torturous questioning not only faced by Rudy but by many who assisted or attempted to escape. The horrors of being placed in freezing cold water for hours is not one that makes for comfortable reading and my imagination went into nightmarish overdrive.

Yet, Rudy is a man who was determined to survive, to escape, with a mind that was both astute and intelligent. I am not sure if I actually liked him, I found him cold and calculating. Yes, he loved his family but when  the dead bodies from his past began to turn up you began to wonder if he really was the killer. I swayed this way and that throughout, at times convinced I knew who it was and at other times completely unsure.

The investigating officers, particularly criminal psychologist Hanna almost seemed as much in the dark as myself. I loved Hanna’s resolve and ingenuity and her own incredulity as she uncovered the truth, and the harshness of the East German regime.

I liked that she wasn’t the usual stereotypical police employee so often seen in the genre, comfortable with her sexuality and relationships, never one to judge, but open minded in her approach to both her personal and professional life.

Rose’s eye for detail was exemplary, her research into East Germany and the role of the Stasi and informants brilliantly done. The historical detail with regard to Berlin both before and after the Wall was cleverly intertwined. It never overpowered the story, but perfectly complimented it, giving the novel a real sense of time and place.

The River Runs Red, was not full of flashing sirens, and hectic scenes, the pace wasn’t fast but measured, full of detail, and I liked that Rose made you think, made you read between the lines to full understand the various strands. The tension definitely increased in the latter parts, and the final scenes were cinematically detailed. Rose was clever, she left me questioning, wondering if what had unfolded was actually the truth and those questions stayed with me long after I had turned the final page.

The River Runs Red is a well researched, thought provoking novel and one that I would highly recommend.

I would like to thank Fahrenheit Press for the copy of The River Runs Red to read and review and to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Ally Rose writes –

“I’ve always been interested in writing crime stories and with the Cold War era, there is such a rich tapestry to draw from; especially the notorious and quelling Stasi reign in East Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, gives a contrast between the different worlds and any past crimes are held to account in a unified Germany.

Berlin is one of my favourite cities, and I’ve spent time living and discovering this diverse city and its surrounding areas. Seeing my characters in familiar places, they seem to come to life.

Hope you enjoy my Hanne Drais books.”

Follow Ally Rose on social media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AllyRoseAuthor

You can purchase The River Runs Red at the following

Fahrenheit Press online book store: http://www.fahrenheit-press.com/books_the_river_runs_red.html

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/River-Runs-Red-gripping-psychological-ebook/dp/B07FQM4ZJX/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537823361&sr=8-1&keywords=the+river+runs+red

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/River-Runs-Red-gripping-psychological-ebook/dp/B07FQM4ZJX/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1537823440&sr=8-2&keywords=the+river+runs+red+ally+rose

The River Runs Red banner (1)

#Blogtour Burning Secrets by Ruth Sutton @ruthsutton @fahrenheitpress #DampPebblesBlogTours

burning secrets cover

Burning Secrets by Ruth Sutton   Fahrenheit Press July 18th 2018

It’s the spring of 2001 and Foot & Mouth disease is raging across Cumbria. 

Twelve-year-old Helen Heslop is forced to leave her family farm and move in with relatives in a nearby town because the strict quarantine means she can’t travel back and forth to school in case she inadvertently helps spread the disease.

As the authorities and the local farming communities try desperately to contain the outbreak, tensions run high and everyone’s emotions are close to the surface.

And then Helen disappears.

The police search expands all over the northwest coast where farms are barricaded and farming families have been plunged into chaos – not least the Hislop family, where potentially explosive fault lines are exposed.

Under the strain tensions build inside the police team too, where local DC Maureen Pritchard is caught between old school DI Bell and new broom DS Anna Penrose.

Will Helen survive? And can life for the Heslop family ever be the same, once burning secrets are discovered and old scores settled?

My Review

If, like me, you will remember the foot and mouth outbreak, you will also recall the utter destruction of the many farms and livestock, but imagine all that and then suddenly your daughter disappears.

For the Helson family it adds to their woes, yet mother Rose remained remarkably calm, almost unworried. Husband Eric seemed more concerned about his livestock. I did wonder if all was as it seemed, or were they all harbouring secrets, secrets that they wanted and needed to remain hidden.

Rose was not a character I particularly liked. I found her very frustrating, and even though I knew she was probably suffering from depression i felt very little sympathy for her. It was a lack of sympathy that seemed escalate as the secrets and truth slowly tumbled out. When she finally did get her act together and realised the consequences of her actions, i still didn’t warm to her, still wanted to shake her.

I did feel a modicum of sympathy for Eric, but again his ostrich like attitude, his utter sense of failure still didn’t twang my emotions.

I think the only person I did like was their daughter, Helen, a young girl, a pawn in a dangerous game.

The investigating officers Sgt Anne Penrose and Maureen Fitzgerald were both very engaging and their relationship a real highlight of the novel. Here was, Anna, the newcomer, the young upstart, promoted over Maureen. I loved the tension that Sutton created and it was wonderfully sustained throughout.

What impressed most was Sutton portrayal of the landscape, the wildness of the Lake District, and the desolation and isolation of the farm,

You could almost smell the rotting, burning flesh of the slaughtered cattle and the images of lorries full of dead livestock were not ones that I will forget.

The foot and mouth epidemic created the perfect backdrop and added to the drama and tension, the stakes raised for all the characters involved.

Unlike most thrillers, Burning Secrets was not fast paced. Instead Sutton took her time setting the scene, looking deep into her characters. The novel wasn’t full of cliches, or easily guessed outcomes, making it a refreshing change and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

I would like to thank Fahrenheit Press for a copy of Burning Secrets to read and review and to Emma Welton of Damp Pebble Blog Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

ruth sutton

Ruth is a very independent person, which – like many things – is good up to a point, but can get tricky sometimes. She lives in a very beautiful place, but it’s a long way to a cinema, or a big supermarket, and if the time comes when she can’t or doesn’t want to drive, she’ll have to move as there’s no public transport. She qualifies for a bus pass, but there aren’t any buses. Her daughter and her family live quite close by, and she loves to see her two grandchildren. After decades on her own, she has a partner whom she loves. They each have their own house, 40 minutes apart, and this life style suits them both. Ruth wrote her first novel after she was 60.

In addition, Ruth has self-published a trilogy entitled Between the Mountains and the Sea; A Good Liar tells the story of Jessie who risks career and independence with a love affair, whilst her secret past draws ever closer. Forgiven is set among the coal mines and fells of the Cumberland coast. Jessie’s struggle for happiness continues. Fallout features the nuclear disaster at Windscale, which brings a compelling stranger into Jessie’s world.

If you would like to follow Ruth on social media via the following links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ruthsutton

Website: http://ruthsutton.co.uk/wordpress/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&text=Ruth+Sutton&search-alias=digital-text&field-author=Ruth+Sutton&sort=relevancerank

Burning-secrets banner

#Blogtour #The Only Child by Rhiannon Navin @rhiannonnavin @panmacillan @EllisKeene #poignant #heartbreaking

Image result for only child rhiannon navin

The Only Child By Rhiannon Navin    Pan October 4th 2018

Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.

My review

To celebrate the release of the Only Child in paperback I have reposted my review from earlier this year when I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in a blogtour for the hardback release.

Told from Zach’s  perspective, Only Child holds nothing back in its physical descriptions nor the psychological trauma the school shooting has on Zach and his family.

The opening chapter is horrifying as Zach hides in a cupboard with his teacher and the rest of his class listening to the ‘pop, pop, pop’ of gunfire. What could  possibly be more terrifying to a young seven year old boy, a terror that Navin describes in such vivid detail that I could feel my own heart pounding, willing the gunman to pass them by, for the children to hold in their sobs until it was over.

Zach’s once innocent world is no more and to discover that his brother Andy was one of the victims, makes the ensuing pages all the more poignant and traumatic. Navin is brilliant at getting to the very core of Zach’s emotions and in some ways he deals with it so much better than his parents. I think Zach’s age and his lack of worldly experience made it much easier for him to deal with the trauma in his own way. The little things he uses to cope, colours and books, enable him to make some sense of the events, to separate his emotions and feel slightly less confused.

What detracts from Zach’s total abilty to deal is the emotions of his parents, and their inability to see the destructiveness their own emotions and battles are having on Zach. I found I had huge empathy for Zach’s dad, who really tried to understand Zach and to help him. His Mum, became so wrapped up in trying to avenge Andy’s death that I really didn’t like her or feel any kind of empathy, in fact I wanted to grab hold of her and tell her to stop, to concentrate on her one remaining son and put all her energy into helping him.

What I admired above all else was the pure simplicity and innocence of Zach’s thoughts, and actions, his need to heal those around him, to make things better. Navin has created a voice that resonated with me, that left me feeling just a little emotional and drained.

The Taylor’s could have been portrayed as the quintessential perfect American family but Navin, to her credit, didn’t and that made the novel all the more realistic. Andy was definitely not the perfect son, having major anger issues that created a rift and endless arguments between his parents.  Other incidents point to a family that would have hit crisis point irrespective of a mass shooting, that events merely speeded up the breakdown.

We often wonder and I certainly do how a family can begin to heal and repair after such an ordeal. How do you begin to get over the anger, the grief, sorrow and loss? What Navin’s novel highlights is that it is often the children that lead the way, that have the strength, will and tenacity to force parents to begin the healing process, all of which Zach has in abundance.

Only Child, is not a comfortable read and nor should it be. Its a heartbreaking and poignant novel that is both timely and relevant in today’s society. It is not a novel I shall forget for a long time.

About the author

Image result for rhiannon navin

Rhiannon Navin grew up in Bremen, Germany, in a family of book-crazy women. Her career in advertising brought her to New York City, where she worked for several large agencies before becoming a full-time mother and writer. She now lives outside of New York City with her husband, three children, two cats, and one dog. Only Child is her first novel.

Twitter @rhiannon navin

#Blogtour Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid @RebeccaCNReid #TransworldDigital @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Perfect Liars PB 1

Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid  Transworld Digital  September 1st 2018

They have it all. And they’ll do anything to keep it that way.
For fans of Liane Moriarty and Lisa Jewell,
Perfect Liars is truly gripping, dark and original.
Sixteen years ago, best friends Nancy, Georgia and Lila did something unspeakable whilst attending an exclusive British boarding school. Their crime forged an unbreakable bond between them, a bond of silence. But now, one of them wants to talk.
One wrong word and everything could be ruined; their covetable lives, careers and
relationships. It’s up to Georgia to call a crisis dinner. But things do not go as planned.
Three women walk in to the dinner, but only two will leave.
Murder isn’t so difficult the second time around…

My review

If there is one thing I like when autumn sets in, it’s a good thriller and Perfect Liars fitted that bill perfectly.

We all have friends that we became close to at school, but what if something happened and it binds you together forever. This was just the case for Georgia, Nancy and Lila, past students of a very exclusive boarding school, who meet up years later at the beautiful home of Georgia. Straight away I could feel the tensions between the three friends, their differing characteristics bouncing off the pages.

Nancy, was their leader, a strong, focused woman,who knew what she wanted and made sure she had the power and control over her life and those in it. I found her very cold and her treatment of her supposed fiance Brett, harsh, although there were the odd chinks in her armour as you sensed that she perhaps liked him more than she was prepared to admit.  Her control over Lila and Georgia, both in the past and the present was crystal clear and I would definitely not have wanted to be her enemy.

Lila was the loose canon, a woman on the edge, motherhood a complete disaster and a marriage that was equally disastrous. Her coping mechanism was to drink vast quantities of alcohol to forget her present circumstances and more importantly the past. I did feel a modicum of sympathy for her, but got frustrated with her, and many times found myself wishing she would just sort herself out.

Georgia, for me, was the most normal, the most likeable. I think this was because of her working class background, the scholarship girl who attended boarding school, and attended Oxford.  She became the perfect wife with the perfect house, perhaps making up for all the things she couldn’t have when growing up. Yet her life was far from perfect, and lacked the children she so desperately wanted, would this push her over the edge, push her to doing things she might not otherwise have done to maintain that perfect lifestyle?

The dinner party itself, was a maelstrom of high emotion, each part of the three course meal like the acts in a play, as the drama and the tension increased.

Reid expertly handled the two and froing between the past and the present and I liked the way each segment was told from the perspective of each of the three women, giving a real sense of their true characters.

From the start you never knew their secret, and could only guess as Reid slowly scattered the narrative with clues. When I did work it out, you had to admire Nancy, Lila and Georgia’s capacity for weaving their string of lies and maintaining their secret for so long. You understood perfectly why the truth had to remain hidden so their lives could continue.

The drama of the latter parts of the novel was brilliantly done, the scene settings, playing their own dramatic part. I have to admit to feeling a chill as I read and especially the ending which was a real intake of breath moment.

This is a novel that will hook you from the very first page, it is highly addictive, fast paced, and could easily be read in one sitting. My only issue is how long I will have to wait for Rebecca Reid to produce her next novel!

I would like to thank Transworld Digital for a copy of Perfect Liars to read and review and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

About the author

Image result for rebecca reid

Rebecca is a freelance journalist. She is a columnist for the Telegraph Women’s section, works for Metro Online and has written for Marie Claire, the Guardian, the Saturday Telegraph, the Independent, Stylist, Glamour, the iPaper, the Guardian, Indy100, LOOK and the New Statesmen amongst others.
Rebecca is a regular contributor to Sky News and ITV’s This Morning as well as appearing on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, LBC, BBC News 24 and the BBC World Service to discuss her work.
She graduated from Royal Holloway’s Creative Writing MA in 2015 and Perfect Liars is her debut novel.
Rebecca lives in North London with her husband.

This is the first week of the Perfect Liars blogtour, make sure you check out weeks two and three to discover reviews, guest posts and extracts from my fellow bloggers

Perfect Liars Blog Tour Poster Week1

%d bloggers like this: